Guide note shifting??
How common is the teaching of guide note shifting, in which one shifts to the note beyond the target, and then depresses the neighbor finger on the target note? I find this technique very annoying, and wonder why shifting straight to the target note is not the favored technique (by my teacher). What school is this guide note shifting style from?
Erin, I suppose you are talking about an increasing scale where you shift up from, e.g., 1st to 3rd position. In that case a standard technique is indeed to shift on the last used finger into the desired position. When playing an increasing scale that means indeed ending up one note higher than the next note you need to play. This technique is beneficial because you practice shifting up a minor or major third on any given finger (although in your case it will typically be the second finger, perhaps the third finger). Actually, how would you define "shifting straight to the target note?"
Thank you, Jean. I wondered if the guide note system is worth the extra trouble of seeking and sounding the note ahead of the next one to play. It seems logical that guide note shifting will result in good muscle memory training, but it is an extra step...I guess I am lazy and would prefer not to first sound the guide note 1 (or 1/2) step up, and instead go directly to the target note. Do you know who is the "author" of this guide note technique for shift training?
While the experienced player will jump straight to the new note, we still have to have the remaining fingers hovering over succeeding notes in the new position.
I think your teacher maybe attempting to make a difficult shift easier for you to execute. The shift you are describing maybe where you shift up from a higher finger to lower finger, eg, 2nd finger first position to 1st finger third position. Usually the 1st finger would be the guide note as it shifts from 1st pos to 3rd pos, but in this case the 2nd finger is used as the guide note in order to maintain the sound of the interval which is involved in the shift. I think you will return to standard shifting once you have developed the ability to co-ordinate the shift with the interval.
So it sounds like “Old Finger Shifting” where you shift to the position you will be playing in then play the note with the finger that you would use in that position. I view it as a practice technique to get your hand in the right position, not to be able to play the note with your hand in a random spot. On shifting, I try to practice it and hope that with this practice, it will be natural to have my hand in the right spot when I am not thinking about it. I actually kind of enjoy the structure that it necessitates.
Erin - try to think of it as a learning device. I do it when I am first studying a piece to make sure I get the interval right. Once I have the piece under my fingers, I stop using it.
I hope very common because it's really the best way. Going straight to the target just sounds lime amateur strategy, or lack of it. Of course there are specific cases where it makse sense, but not generally. Every rule has exceptions. Also remember that it's your arm that does the shifting going up or down, not your hand or your fingers.
Twenty years ago the violin coach of my community orchestra suggested aiming to land your 1st finger on the appropriate note for the position you were aiming to land in with whatever finger you were planning to land. It did indeed seem to work.
Guide nots, also called shifting notes of ghosting notes, are standard in schools of playing - I've never met a teacher who doesn't teach this way although they may have a different names for them. If you read major pedagogy books (Gerle, Fischer etc) they are all referenced there too. I have a playlist for my students for practicing shifts in 8 different ways, but shifting notes is number one in the list :) In case you are interested, link below
"I find this technique very annoying, and wonder why shifting straight to the target note is not the favored technique (by my teacher). "
Sounding the guide note is done for practice purposes. As you become better at shifting, you will start to choose which finger you shift up on and which finger you land on. This will be done for both expressive purposes (the "Heifetz" vs "Kreisler" shifts you may have seen referenced in other posts), and for security.
Thank you Jean, Adrian, Henry, Johann, Tom, David, Andrew,Susanna, Scott, and Lydia! I appreciate your assurance that my teacher's insistence on using the guide note system for learning shifts is a standard teaching method...I will just work harder to reap the benefits. Guess I was unaware that there is much more to position shifts than meets the eye.
Repeating what the others wrote;
Whistler's Introducing the Positions has lots of index shifting.
I sympathize with your "annoyance," Erin. As a youngster, I was of the "leap and land" school of shifting, which I had worked up to about 96% effectiveness, meaning about 1 in 25 shifts failed miserably. Now I am having to relearn shifting with guide notes. Kreutzer 11 is a good one for that. Mimi Zweig has a short video on how to practice it: http://www.stringpedagogy.com/members/volumes/streaming/223.htm.
My teacher taught me this way, and it works very well. She taught me to always come up from below—never from above. Usually to land on another note in the chord or on whatever note the first finger takes in the position you're aiming for.
I'm with Cotton. If you're shifting up, you use a guide finger if you are shifting to a higher finger, but you try and shift through the starting finger with the lower finger if shifting up to a lower finger.
Galamian talked about shifting on the old finger being 'French school' and shifting on the new finger being 'Russian school'. I haven't heard any other teachers talk about this difference from a nationality perspective, and maybe the difference was only evident in the early 20th Century.
There is also stretch-regroup, or even slip-stretch-regroup shifting.
Susanna, Thank you for the link to the Practice Blitz channel. It is very generous of you to give your time to make such helpful videos.
James - my teacher discusses the different methods of shifting and slides with me in terms of French/Russian; my childhood teacher was firmly in the Russian camp and that was how I shifted and held my bow, and I've been retrained in the French style. It's nice to be able to use one or the other, context dependent.
If you have a chance to read the Yankelevich book, he talks about shifting in detail, but cautions against shifting above the note you are trying to get to. He does talk about guide notes, but not in that context.
I think the important part is that you never lose the contact between a finger and the string, so you have tactile feedback that's telling your brain how far you've gone.
I always encourage my students to be able, at the very least, to know where the octave (mid-point) of each string is, because so many other pitches can be found from there.
One of the oddities I discovered of having taken a long break from the violin is that after a decade, I could not quite remember where the pitches were for high-position shifting. But they remained in my memory. I could stop, actively summon the memory of the kinesthetic feeling into my head, and then execute the shift correctly at speed. The problem was that it took me a moment to retrieve the memory from the back of my brain -- to go from cold storage to active storage, so to speak. I spent a couple of hours one weekend, doing shifting exercises out of Simon Fischer's "Basics", actively retrieving the memories, and that re-solidified everything all at once.
Nathan Cole covers best practices on guide notes pretty well in this video:
Thank you all for more helpful replies! And thank you Jason, for the link to Nathan Cole's video. I like how NC emphasizes shifting is ear work rather than finger work; somehow this makes the whole concept much less intimidating...
Yes, Erin, I had the same thought about it:)
.….shifting is ear work....
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